Duke’s Savannah-Area Portfolio Grows by 657,600 SF with 2-Building Buy

Already the largest provider of industrial properties in greater Savannah, Ga., Duke Realty Corp. has boosted its portfolio in the area by 657,600 square feet with the acquisition of two distribution centers from local developer Wrenn Blalock. The fully occupied facilities sit within Duke’s Port Logistics Center at Crossroads Business Park, and with the recent purchase, the real estate company now owns in excess of 4.5 million square feet of space in the 1,700-acre park. Originally developed by Blalock in 2007, the properties include the 432,600-square-foot Northpoint IV, home to storage and shipping company Ocean Link Inc., and the 225,000-square-foot Northpoint VII, which is occupied by international manufacturer Midwest Air Corp. under a seven-year lease. In addition to being three miles from the Port of Savannah, the facilities are also within close proximity to the Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport and I-95. Duke made its entrée into the Savannah industrial market in early 2006 with the $194.6 million acquisition of a 5.1 million-square-foot 18-building portfolio from Blalock. The transaction paved the way for Duke to become an even bigger giant in the market, as it included an option for the company to acquire future properties in Savannah totaling as much as 4 million square feet. Duke has been taking advantage of the clause, announcing the purchases of a 176,000-square-foot property for $7.5 million in July, and two buildings totaling 789,000 square feet at Crossroads for $27.3 million in March. “Blalock has a couple more sites at our Crossroads center and is working on a couple of build-to-suits, so we anticipate acquiring those, as well,” Sam O’Briant, Duke executive vice president for the southeast region, told CPN. “We’ll also continue to follow the market together for opportunities.” With the latest acquisition, Duke’s presence in the Savannah area now spans 5.9 million square feet of fully leased space with an investment value exceeding $235 million. Savannah’s industrial real estate market is doing well. “The port is the driver of demand,” O’Briant said. As noted in a 2008 forecast report by the Savannah Area Chamber of Commerce, Savannah’s port is the second largest container port on the East Coast and the fourth largest in the nation–and it’s still growing. The vacancy rate is in the 8 percent range. “Imports remain solid,” O’Briant said, “and some companies have been increasing exports, which is contributing to the industrial market’s expansion.” Industry sources cite the weakened dollar and demand for construction products overseas as potential reasons for any jump in exporting. The largest publicly traded, vertically integrated office/industrial real estate company in the nation, Duke owns, develops and manages office, industrial and healthcare properties. Its portfolio of owned, managed and in-progress assets encompasses more than 142 million square feet in 24 leading cities across the country. Additionally, the company controls more than 7,700 acres of land capable of accommodating approximately 113 million square feet of development.